Changing the World

There is no known cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a degenerative brain condition that typically afflicts adults between the ages of 40 to 70.

Nor is there a test that can quickly and accurately identify the presence of the disease, and monitor the effectiveness of prescribed medications. That’s why it can take up to a year before a diagnosis of ALS can be confirmed. And another year before determining whether the treatment plan is best for each individual patient.

Dr. Wendy Johnston, Medical Director of the University of Alberta Hospital's ALS Clinic

Developing a test for ALS

Researchers at the ALS Clinic are working to develop a faster way of identifying the presence of ALS — dramatically changing the outlook for ALS patients. Life expentancy following diagnosis is 2 to 5 years, says Dr. Sanjay Kalra, neurologist at the ALS Clinic.

“The sooner we can diagnose ALS, the sooner patients can begin treatment, which would have a direct impact on the progression of the disease,” says Dr. Kalra. “It would also give us a more efficient way of monitoring new drug therapies.”

Patient Care at the University of Alberta’s ALS Clinic

Once diagnosed, patients with ALS are referred to the ALS Clinic at the Kaye Edmonton Clinic where they have access to the best interdisciplinary care in western Canada.

“When patients come here they don’t just meet with one doctor, they meet with several doctors and an entire team of specialists,” says Dr. Wendy Johnston, Medical Director of the ALS Clinic. The care team consists of social workers, physical and occupational therapists, nutritionists, speech pathologists and rehabilitation specialists.